Gaining traction for business continuity and crisis management activities with people (who aren’t already on the business continuity bandwagon) has always been challenging.
And now we’re stuck in a crisis fatigue hangover of unprecedented proportions.
It’s no surprise that nearly every single business continuity professional we talk to right now is struggling to get their people engaged and prepared for the next disruption.
If you’re one of them—knowing that building your business continuity muscles is now more important than ever but wondering how no one else seems to “get it”—we hear you loud and clear.
Here are some tactics we’re using right now to help our clients move past the crisis fatigue slog and gain traction for business continuity and crisis management activities in their organization.
Getting to the Root of Your Business Continuity Woes
Finding effective solutions to complex problems usually starts with asking yourself some hard questions. Like, “What do others in your organization say about you when you’re not in the room?”
Are you considered a respected business partner who listens, understands, and strives to add value to their area of operations?
Or are you just another jargon-bleating, myopically focused, compliance talking head, tasking them with yet another business plan or exercise that takes precious time away from their “real job”?
When our consulting clients are having problems getting their stakeholders to engage and act on business continuity objectives, I find that it’s usually the latter. You eat, breathe, and sleep business continuity, so it’s natural to think everyone else understands what you do and why it’s important. But they don’t.
Like the head of contact centers with a team of 100 that field thousands of calls daily, updating this year’s business continuity plan is down at the bottom of her list, along with scheduling that root canal.
If you want your organization’s stakeholders to think of business continuity activities as a “want to” rather than a “have to,” you need to forego your business continuity-centric approach and learn how to speak their language.
Here are some ways to do it.
3 Proven Tactics to Gain Traction with Business Continuity
1. Go on a listening tour.
Aside from the cringe-worthy imaginings of what your colleagues are saying about all you business continuity people when you’re not in the room, do you know what they REALLY think about business continuity? Or the problems that cause them to reach for the Tums at 2 a.m.?
If not, going on a listening tour of your organization might be an excellent first step. We’ve used this strategy post-COVID with a lot of success.
First, we create a list of key stakeholders, a number that isn’t overwhelming but includes the most important ones and is broad enough to get valid feedback. Then we set up a brief 25–30-minute meeting to meet with each of them individually.
When we meet, our conversations are pointed:
- What do they think the company’s challenges are around resiliency?
- How did they manage through COVID or whatever the latest disruption was? What did they learn, and how has this changed their thinking about business continuity?
- How do they perceive our business continuity program and our team in its current iteration?
Armed with this information, we can better tailor our approach and communications to address the specific challenges faced by each business leader. Do we need to make a few tweaks? Do we need a complete overhaul? Or is it simply a matter of stepping up our communications?
Once you’ve gotten that initial input, it’s equally important to embed a continuous feedback loop into your processes to keep lines of communication open with stakeholders. For example, we’ve set up a system for some clients to poll participants at the end of each planning cycle on how the business continuity planning process can be improved.
2. Know your business continuity story.
You probably never imagined that a business continuity and crisis management career would require a marketing and communications school. But in my experience, every successful business continuity program has behind it a leader who is constantly working to tell the program’s story, gain new allies, and convert others to the cause of preparedness, business continuity, and crisis management. That person is you.
If you want to get traction for your business continuity and crisis management efforts, you need to know your business continuity “story” and be prepared to tell that story to anyone who will listen.
In my previous roles as a business continuity program owner, I literally created what I called a “walkaround deck” of no more than 8-10 slides that I used in every meeting with senior leaders and stakeholders. It succinctly told our organization’s “business continuity story,” including:
- How and why our business continuity program was started
- What our mission was
- How our program objectives supported our organization’s strategic initiatives
- The key components of our program and how they operated on a granular (but not too granular) level to accomplish those objectives
- Our organization’s current challenges and what our team was explicitly doing to respond to those challenges
It takes time to embed these themes within the collective consciousness of your organization but doing so is critical to building a culture of resilience. Look for every opportunity you can to tell your business continuity story among your stakeholders.
These strategies are part of the approach that we use in our 5-Day Business Continuity Accelerator course where we aim to improve the perception of your business continuity program within your organization.
We offer our 5-Day Business Continuity Accelerator quarterly.
3. Be ready to tell the story that “they” need to hear.
I fondly remember the “Choose-your-own-adventure” books of my childhood. No two endings were alike, depending on whether you chose to “sneak through the locked gate,” “call the authorities,” or “enlist the help of your super-sleuth friend, Nate” at the end of Chapter 2.
Similarly, each team within your organization will have different versions of what they want their business continuity journey to look like and the outcomes they hope to achieve at the end of their “story.” Although the narratives surrounding your business continuity program should stay consistent, the way you tell your story needs to be adjusted to your particular audience. As the master storyteller for your program, it’s your job to understand what matters most to each stakeholder and adjust the angle of your story, so it becomes one that they want to be a part of.
A good way to start is by asking your business teams things like:
“What are they working on right now?”
“What’s really important to them?”
“How does business continuity and disruption impact their particular area of operations?”
“What can your team do to support them?”
Not everything they come up with might be relevant, but there are bound to be some nuggets of truth about how you need to change or modify your approach to get the traction for business continuity that you’re looking for. At the very least, you’ll gain their appreciation for taking the time to understand their perspective—a small but significant step towards winning them over to the cause of business continuity.
Are you ready to move your business continuity activities from the ranks from “ugh” to “ease” with the stakeholders in your organization? Bryghtpath can help.
Want to work with us or learn more about Business Continuity & Crisis Management?
- Our proprietary Resiliency Diagnosis process is the perfect way to advance your business continuity & crisis management program. Our thorough standards-based review culminates in a full report, maturity model scoring, and a clear set of recommendations for improvement.
- Our Business Continuity (including effective Business Continuity Governance) & Crisis Management services help you rapidly grow and mature your program to ensure your organization is prepared for the storms that lie ahead.
- Our Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity contains everything you need to know about Business Continuity, while our Ultimate Guide to Crisis Management does the same for Crisis Management.
- Our free Business Continuity 101 Introductory Course and/or our Crisis Management 101 Introductory Course may help you with an introduction to the world of business continuity & crisis management – and help prepare your organization for your next disruption.
- Learn about our Free Resources, including articles, a resource library, white papers, reports, free introductory courses, webinars, and more.
- Set up an initial call with us to chat further about how we might be able to work together.